|Name||Maine Returnable Beverage Container Law|
|Purpose||Reduce litter and solid waste generation, create incentives for recycling and reuse|
|Beverages Covered||All beverages except dairy products and unprocessed cider|
|Containers Covered||All sealed containers made of glass, metal or plastic, containing 4 liters or less, excluding aseptics|
|Amount of Deposit||Wine/liquor above 50mL: 15¢
All others (including wine/liquor "nips" ≤50mL): 5¢
|Reclamation System||Retail stores and redemption centers; dealers may refuse containers if they have an agreement with a nearby redemption center.|
|Handling Fee||4.5¢ (as of January 1, 2020) [a]|
|Unredeemed Deposits||Property of state (when containers are not subject to a commingling agreement)|
Prior to 2018/19, the redemption rate was not measured and reported on annually in Maine.
The Maine Beverage Association reported an unofficial redemption rate of 84% for 2017. [b]
Official redemption rates (for 2018 and 2019) should be available for the first time from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in late 2020 [c], per new reporting requirements. [d]
In June 2017, the Senate voted to place a 5¢ deposit on 50 milliliter and smaller liquor bottles (commonly known as "nips"). All wine/liquor containers larger than 50 milliliters remain at deposit values of 15¢.[b]
Distributors who initiate deposits have the obligation to pick up containers from the dealers they deliver to or from the licensed redemption center that serves those dealers. There is a per container fine of $100 for accepting containers purchased out of state for redemption.
To prevent out-of-state redemption fraud, rules were added in 2009, requiring people wishing to redeem more than 2,500 beverage containers at a time to provide their name, license plate number, and address each time they return containers in bulk. Exceptions are made for nonprofit organizations. Other changes made at this time include a limit on the number of redemption centers in a municipality, based on population, and a requirement for dealers or redemption centers to accept plastic wrap used for beverage containers.
In 2019, the law was revised to prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from issuing new redemption center licenses from May 2, 2019 to January 15, 2020.
Provisions for "commingling agreements" exist in the Maine legislation to increase the efficiency of the redemption process. The following information is from a study by the Maine Department of Agriculture. [e]
"Commingling groups” which represent approximately 2/3 of the beverage industry are 2 or more initiators of deposit (distributors) of beverage containers for which they have initiated deposits to be commingled by dealers and redemption centers. The advantages of comingling agreements allow for the commingling of beverage containers by like product group (beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks etc.) material and size.
Distributors who are members of a commingling agreement pick up all other beverage containers subject to the agreement in assigned geographical locations. The end result is less sorting for redemption centers and less handling and transportation costs for distributors.
By default all unclaimed deposits must be transferred monthly to the state of Maine, but this does not apply to containers that are subject to a commingling agreement. [f]
Redemption information in Maine has been historically difficult to track down. A 2007 survey by the Maine Department of Agriculture contains some redemption and sales information, but was unable to find any "reliable conclusions" due to lack of participation. In 2017, beverage industry sources reported a redemption rate of 84% [b].
A May 2018 OPEGA report (the Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability of the Maine State Legislature) discussed how the lack of required reporting made it difficult to assess deposit initiator compliance, and the program's success and efficiency.[g]
In 2019, the law was revised to require deposit initiators and pick-up agents to report the number of beverage containers sold and picked up from redemption centers for recycling. As of August 2020, a process to collect this information from beverage distributors and pick-up agents was underway, with redemption rate results expected later in 2020.[d]
[a] Statutes of Maine: Title 32: Chapter 28: Section 4-c (http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/32/title32sec1866.html)
[b] Maine law: Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry E-mail Communication with Steve Giguere 2/27/15; 2017 redemption rate: Letter from Newell Augur, Maine Beverage Association to Maine State Sen. Tom Saviello and Rep. Ralph Tucker, Jan. 18, 2018. Nips law signed 6/7/17.
[c] Personal communication with Scott Wilson, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, 8/27/2020.
[d] Statutes of Maine: Title 38: Chapter 33: §3119. "Reporting Requirements"
[e] Maine Department of Agriculture, Division of Quality Assurance and Regulations.A Report Prepared for the 123rd Legislature Joint Standing Committee on Business, Research and Economic Development: Response to Chapter 40 Resolve, To Estimate the Annual Value of Uncollected Bottle Deposits, Fraud and Total Costs under Maine's Bottle Bill.
[f] Statutes of Maine: Title 32: Chapter 28: §1866-E. "Unclaimed deposits"
[g] "Maine’s Beverage Container Redemption Program–Lack of Data Hinders Evaluation of Program and Alternatives; Program Design Not Fully Aligned with Intended Goals; Compliance, Program Administration, and Commingling Issues Noted." A report to the Government Oversight Committee from the Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability of the Maine State Legislature, May 2018. http://legislature.maine.gov/doc/2316